a child is biking home dejected after being told there won't be a sleepover at his friend's house


I hate sleepovers — sleep in your own bed

Mar 7, 2018

I hate sleepovers.

There. I said it. I hate them.

I love play dates — or hangouts, as the big kids call them these days. I love it when a kid or two comes over to hang out with my kid or two, and they roam through the house and eat snacks and build things and play ping pong or shoot each other with Nerf guns. Maybe they eventually head out on their bikes to the park or to round up other kids in the neighbourhood for hijinks. I’m good with feeding them smoothies and grilled cheese sandwiches, or dinner. I love how easily a weekend day stretches out when my kids are occupied with their friends.

But at the end of that day — at the end of any day — I’m done.

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After all the roaming, snacks, Nerf guns, smoothies, bike rides and general chaos of it all, I’m ready to close up shop and go to bed. At that point, when the sky is darkening and the dishes are — if I’m lucky — washed, my thoughts are not turning toward the next round of the party. They are turned toward winding down, to tidying up, quiet, to the part of the day where I can let go of responsibility.

At eight or nine or 10 p.m., I no longer want to be thinking about what all the children might like to eat, or who has their jacket. I no longer thrill to hear the gleeful shouts of children at play in the basement. Call me a killjoy, but at night, I want to go to sleep. And I want my children to go to sleep in their own beds and I want their lovely friends to go to sleep in their own beds, at their own houses.

The end.

I would love to be the type of mom who could float away to dreamland on the sounds of giggling and television and the fridge door opening and closing, but I can’t.

I know that there are people out there who feel differently. I know that there are parents — and households — who love the chaos and puppy piles of children awake until all hours, who shrug and laugh and are all “The more, the merrier” and “Sleep when you’re dead.” I greatly admire those parents, but after four-and-a-half decades on this Earth, I am resigned to the fact that I am never going to be like them. They are type B people and I am a type A person, and when I don’t sleep I feel like I am dead.

And you know when I can’t sleep? When children are still awake in my house. I would love to be the type of mom who could float away to dreamland on the sounds of giggling and television and the fridge door opening and closing, but I can’t. I can’t sleep when the house is in chaos. I also can’t sleep when a random child (not my child) knocks on my bedroom door at 2 a.m. because he can’t sleep. I’m empathetic: I’ve never found it easy to sleep at a strange house, in a strange bed (let alone in a sleeping bag on someone’s spare futon), but at 2 a.m., I’m never quite sure what to do except to offer a glass of milk or some toast, and hope that we’ll both be able to get back to sleep and not be zombies in the morning.

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Plus, I’m a single mom. I share custody of my kids. So I don’t really need the “break” that a kid of mine sleeping over at somebody else’s house provides — especially if it means that said kid returns home exhausted and cranky.

So, come on over for a play date — I mean, hangout. Our kids can build forts in the basement and have Nerf gun wars, play hide and seek and eat grilled cheese sandwiches. They can even ride their bikes around the neighbourhood and take the cat for walks.

And then, at the end of the day, let’s call it a day. Let’s all go home and get some rest in our own beds, and we’ll see you again in the morning.

Article Author Susan Goldberg
Susan Goldberg

Read more from Susan here.

Susan Goldberg is a freelance writer, essayist, editor and blogger. Her articles and essays have been featured in, among others, Ms., the Globe and Mail, Today’s Parent, Advisor’s Edge, Corporate Knights and Stealing Time magazines, as well as in several anthologies, a variety of parenting and lifestyle websites, and on the CBC. She is co-editor of the award-winning anthology And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents, and Our Unexpected Families. Susan is one of approximately 30 Jews in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where she lives with her sons and a changing cast of cats. Read more at susanlgoldberg.com.

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